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Police throw theatre workers in cells for Dunfermline swastika prank

The Alhambra now plans to use this controversial image in its adult panto this Christmas. Picture: Deadline

The Alhambra now plans to use this controversial image in its adult panto this Christmas. Picture: Deadline

  • by CLAIRE MCKIM
 

THEATRE workers spent five hours in police cells after staging a prank protest using the Nazi flag from their production of The Sound of Music.

• Alhambra Theatre owner claims Fife Council have bullied his staff

• Police released technicians after five hours

• Flag used in scene from musical The Sound of Music

The technicians used the swastika flag as a “joke” in their demonstration against a “bullying” local council.

But when Fife Police spotted the Nazi symbol on their CCTV system, officers swooped on the group and led them away in handcuffs.

The workers from the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, claim Fife Council financially supports its own theatres while refusing to give them a penny.

The theatre has just finished its run of The Sound of Music, which features a swastika flag when the Von Trapp family performs at a Nazi event in Austria.

But the technicians’ decision to use the prop as a “satirical” joke during the prank outside the city chambers in Dunfermline backfired.

Four protesters, among them Bill Fletcher, the owner of the theatre, spent a combined total of 19 hours in the local police cells after officers failed to see the funny side.

Mr Fletcher said: “The flags were left lying in the theatre following our performance of The Sound of Music.

“We saw an opportunity to poke fun at the council and took it. These are not banned images and we were using the flag in a satirical fashion.”

Referring to his detention, he added: “I have never seen the police act so fast. It was a complete overreaction by the council as no crime had actually been committed. It was terrible overkill.

“It’s a great pity that our attempt to have a joke at the expense of Fife Council, in retaliation for years of bullying suffered at their hands, has turned out to have serious consequences for our staff. Maybe it wasn’t the most well thought-out prank, but we didn’t deserve to be treated like that”

He was held for two-and-a-half hours while his colleagues spent more than five hours each in the cells. All were eventually released without charge.

Mr Fletcher claims the council have been bullying workers at the theatre since it first opened six years ago.

He said: “The council view us as competition to places like Carnegie Hall and the Lochgelly Centre. We are unsupported by the council and are one of only two theatres in Scotland to receive no council support.

“We’ve brought a theatre to town and they do everything in their power to cause us grief.”

A spokesman from Fife Constabulary, said: “We attended an incident and a number of people were interviewed in relation to it. It was established that no crime had been committed.”

Steve Grimmond, executive director of environment, enterprise and communities at the council, said: “We recognise and value what the Alhambra Theatre brings to Dunfermline and enjoy a good working relationship and regular contact with them. We are always happy to work with the theatre.”

 

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